Aristotelia chilensis

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Aristotelia chilensis
Maqui tree with fruits
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Oxalidales
Family: Elaeocarpaceae
Genus: Aristotelia
A. chilensis
Binomial name
Aristotelia chilensis
The native area of the rainforest
  • Aristotelia glabra Miers
  • Aristotelia glandulosa Ruiz & Pav.
  • Aristotelia lucida Salisb.
  • Aristotelia macqui L'Hér.
  • Aristotelia macqui var. andina Phil.
  • Beaumaria macqui Deless. ex Steud.

Aristotelia chilensis, known as maqui or Chilean wineberry, is a tree species in the Elaeocarpaceae family native to South America in the Valdivian temperate forests of Chile and adjacent regions of southern Argentina. Limited numbers of these trees are cultivated in gardens for their small fruits. Wild-harvested fruits are commercially marketed.

The species has drawn attention for its forensic potential as it is reported to be among the first plants to grow around pig carcasses, which are experimental substitutes for human corpses, in southern Chile.[2]



Aristotelia chilensis is a small dioecious evergreen tree that can reach 4 to 5 metres (13 to 16 ft) in height. Its divided trunk has a smooth bark. Its branches are abundant, thin and flexible. Its leaves are simple, opposite, hanging, oval-lanceolate, naked and coriaceous, with serrated edges. The leaf venation is highly visible, and the leaf stalk is a strong red color.

In the beginning of spring, the tree sheds the old leaf cohort, which is used as a carbohydrate source to form the new leaves and flowers.[3]

The berries of the maqui tree

Flowers and berries[edit]

When A. chilensis flowers at the end of spring, the white flowers are unisexual and small, eventually yielding a small edible fruit. The small purple-black berries that form are approximately 4 to 6 millimetres (0.16 to 0.24 in) in diameter and contain 4 to 8 angled seeds. A seven-year-old tree can produce up to 10 kilograms (22 lb) of berries per year. With fruit that tastes similar to blackberries, the species is known as the Chilean wineberry, and locally in Spanish as maqui or maque.


The maqui was first scientifically described by Juan Ignacio Molina in 1782, who named it Cornus chilensis. In 1914, Stephen Conrad Stuntz assigned it to the genus Aristotelia that had been erected by Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle in 1786, and made the new combination A. chilensis.[4]


Aristotelia chilensis is native to Chile and Argentina near the southwest coast of South America.[1] It is found naturally in Chilean rainforests. Its native range spans the area between the Coquimbo and Aysén regions of Chile, and is 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres) in total.[5]


Maqui berries are a favored food for birds at the end of summer. Deforestation of the Valdivian temperate forests in Chile suppresses seed dispersal by birds and leads to inbreeding depression.[6]

Harvesting and cultivation[edit]

The berries of A. chilensis are collected from wild plants from December to March of each year by families, mainly Mapuche, who collect their harvest near the Andes Mountains. The harvesting process involves collecting the side branches of trees, shaking them to separate the berries and leaves from the branches, and then employing a mechanical process to separate the berries from the leaves.

The stored fruits are sold in local markets, with prices ranging from $6.5 to $15 per kilogram ($2.9 to $6.8/lb). The average area yield is about 220 kilograms (490 lb) per hectare annually, with an estimated yearly total of only 90 short tons (180,000 lb),[citation needed] due to remote access and difficulty of transportation.

Aristotelia chilensis is planted in home gardens and is not grown on an orchard scale. Most of the fruits on the market have been gathered from the wild. Maqui is frost sensitive and fairly tolerant of seaside conditions. It prefers a well-drained soil in full sun, with some protection against cold, drying winds. The soil should be slightly acidic, with moderate fertility.[7]

Aristotelia chilensis can be planted in USDA zones 8 to 12. It is cultivated in Spain, and in milder, moister areas of Britain, where winter freezes cause dieback, thereby stimulating growth of more shoots in spring.[8]


Seeds of A. chilensis germinate without cold stratification. In zones with the possibility of frost, it is recommended to sow in spring in a greenhouse. If they have grown enough, by autumn, the new plants can be planted into individual pots . The potted plants should stay in the greenhouse for the first winter.

The following year, after the last expected frost in spring, the plants can be planted out into their final positions. In their first winter outdoors, some type of frost protection is required.[9] For further propagation, vegetative propagation is possible: cuttings of wood with a length of 15 to 30 centimetres (5.9 to 11.8 in) can be planted into pots. These cuttings normally root, and can be planted out in the following spring.[10]


Polyphenol research on maqui berries showed anthocyanin content to include eight glucoside pigments of delphinidin and cyanidin, with the principal anthocyanin being delphinidin 3-sambubioside-5-glucoside (34% of total anthocyanins).[11][12][13] The average total anthocyanin content was 138 milligrams (2.13 gr) per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of fresh fruit, or 212 milligrams (3.27 gr) per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of dry fruit,[13] ranking maqui berries low among darkly pigmented fruits for anthocyanin content (see table at anthocyanins). One study found that anthocyanins are also present in maqui leaves.[14]

Other phytochemicals extracted from the leaves of A. chilensis were the alkaloids aristoteline, aristoquinoline, and aristone.[15]


  1. ^ a b c "Aristotelia chilensis". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  2. ^ Romero-Mieres, Mario; Vivallo, Gabriel; Donoso, Gustavo; Esse, Carlos; Díaz, Ramiro; Francois, Angélica; Solano, Jaime; Ortloff, Alexander; Albornoz, Sandra; Betancour, Oriana; Cofré, Ximena; Valdivia, Margarita; de la Fuente, Juan Carlos; Figueroa, Alejandra; Lizama, Cristián (2016). "Botánica Forense en Chile: El caso de Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz y su potencial utilidad como especie bioindicadora forense" [Forensic Botany in Chile: The case of Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz and its potential utility as a forensic bioindicator species]. Gayana. Botánica (in Spanish). 73 (1): 156–160. doi:10.4067/S0717-66432016000100018.
  3. ^ Prado CH, Damascos MA (September 2001). "Gas exchange and leaf specific mass of different foliar cohorts of the wintergreen shrub Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz (Eleocarpaceae) fifteen days before the flowering and the fall of the old cohort". Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology. 44 (3): 277–82. doi:10.1590/S1516-89132001000300009.
  4. ^ "Aristotelia chilensis Stuntz". The World Flora Online.
  5. ^ Nahuelhual L, Carmona A, Lara A, Echeverría C, González ME (2012). "Land-cover change to forest plantations: Proximate causes and implications for the landscape in south-central Chile". Landscape and Urban Planning. 107 (1): 12–20. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.04.006.
  6. ^ Valdivia CE, Simonetti JA (2006). "Decreased frugivory and seed germination rate do not reduce seedling recruitment rates of Aristotelia chilensis in a fragmented forest". Plant Conservation and Biodiversity. pp. 1593–1602. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6444-9_2. hdl:10533/178593. ISBN 978-1-4020-6443-2. {{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  7. ^ Huxley A (1992). The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening.
  8. ^ Grey-Wilson C, Matthews V (1983). Gardening on Walls. London.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Bean W (1981). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol. 1–4.
  10. ^ Chittenden F (1951). RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Romero-González J, Shun Ah-Hen K, Lemus-Mondaca R, Muñoz-Fariña O (May 2020). "Total phenolics, anthocyanin profile and antioxidant activity of maqui, Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz, berries extract in freeze-dried polysaccharides microcapsules". Food Chemistry. 313: 126115. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.126115. PMID 31927206. S2CID 210166613.
  12. ^ Fredes C, Yousef GG, Robert P, Grace MH, Lila MA, Gómez M, et al. (October 2014). "Anthocyanin profiling of wild maqui berries (Aristotelia chilensis [Mol.] Stuntz) from different geographical regions in Chile". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 94 (13): 2639–48. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6602. hdl:10533/127080. PMID 24497378.
  13. ^ a b Escribano-Bailón MT, Alcalde-Eon C, Muñoz O, Rivas-Gonzalo JC, Santos-Buelga C (2006). "Anthocyanins in berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz)". Phytochemical Analysis. 17 (1): 8–14. doi:10.1002/pca.872. hdl:10366/141047. PMID 16454470.
  14. ^ Suwalsky M, Vargas P, Avello M, Villena F, Sotomayor CP (November 2008). "Human erythrocytes are affected in vitro by flavonoids of Aristotelia chilensis (Maqui) leaves". International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 363 (1–2): 85–90. doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2008.07.005. hdl:10533/142020. PMID 18687390.
  15. ^ Arias, Hugo R.; Ortells, Marcelo O.; Feuerbach, Dominik; Burgos, Viviana; Paz, Cristian (2019-07-26). "Alkaloids Purified from Aristotelia chilensis Inhibit the Human α3β4 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor with Higher Potencies Compared with the Human α4β2 and α7 Subtypes". Journal of Natural Products. 82 (7): 1953–1960. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b00314. ISSN 0163-3864. PMID 31276409. S2CID 195813700.

External links[edit]

Media related to Aristotelia chilensis at Wikimedia Commons